Golf club owners battle Chester County school district over land

PHOENIXVILLE, Pa. - December 3, 2013

The Phoenixville Area School Board has been looking for space to expand, and they recently voted to use eminent domain to acquire the family-owned Meadowbrook Golf Club.

It appears to be an end of an era at the golf club that has been a local landmark to many area residents. They have been playing golf at the 9-hole course since the 1930's.

But the local school district says it must have the land for two new schools.

"I'm really, really sad that this bit of open space is going to be gone," said Donna Moetsch.

There is upset at the Meadowbrook Golf Course over the school district's recent decision to take the property by eminent domain.

Eminent domain allows a government entity to take land at a fair market price for public use like a school or a road.

Andrew Hohorst, a friend of the golf course owners, spoke for them on Tuesday.

"They do not want to sell this property, and the school district is obviously doing anything they can in their power to make it seem like he is a willing seller; he is not," said Hohorst.

The school district says the owners, the Campbell Brown family, approached them.

The superintendent says off again, on again talks concerned not willingness, but simply price in millions of dollars.

"Those negotiations broke down when they didn't want to move off their price $8 million dollars we had a recent appraisal at the highest and best use at $3.75 million dollars," said Superintendent Alan Fegley.

Meadowbrook is adjacent to the districts sprawling middle and high school complex.

The plan is to use the 50 acre course for playing fields and school buildings for younger students.

The superintendent says the district finally opted for eminent domain because it means a special panel will set the fair market price.

"Let a third party sit there and say no the property is worth 6 million, the property is worth $3 million, the property is worth $7 or $8 million," said Fegley.

But Meadowbrook's owners maintain they are being unfairly treated by the school district. This land has belonged to the family for more than a century.

"Not at 5 million, not at 8 million, not at $14 million. He does not want to sell this property," said Hohorst.

The school district has offered $5 million in its last offer before it went to eminent domain. According to the school district, that offer was turned down.

The eminent domain process is in the works now. If it is to be stopped or halted in any way, the current owners will have to make an appeal in the next 10 days.

After that, the ownership reverts to the school district with a price to be later determined.

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